SPEAKING to entrepreneurs, there’s one subject that comes up again and again in conversation – how difficult it is to find the right staff.
Start-up companies face an even bigger hurdle; fitting an individual into a tight-knit team is often as important as their skills and experience.
So how can start-ups and other young companies hire the right people to help them grow?
Megan Vinten, principal consultant at recruitment firm Eden Scott, which runs the TalentSpark start-up digital platform, said: “The first thing is to make sure you know what you’re looking for.
“Often a job description can turn into a wish-list.
“Start-ups are small teams and so if there’s a big job that needs done then sometimes we get handed a job description for a person who doesn’t exist because it’s lots of jobs rolled into one.
“Identify which parts of that job are essential for the hire we’re talking about right now, which skills will be involved and which skills could be moved into the next hire or could be spread out across other people in the company.
“You also need to go out there and sell your company – start-ups are small so they can’t offer the same financial rewards, but they can offer recruits some great opportunities to work on exciting technology.”
Peter Dunn, division manager for information technology (IT) at Eden Scott, added: “We’re facing a major skills shortage so it’s more important than ever that companies focus on what makes them different and why someone
would want to work for them.
“Part of that is having a long-term plan and showing how a recruit could progress their career at your company.”
One business that knows the importance of hiring the right staff is Inverness-based Fishbox, which runs a seafood subscription service.
The firm developed an algorithm with the University of Stirling – through a partnership brokered by Interface – which makes sure the right fresh seafood is bought at the markets to fulfil its customers’ preferences.
Subscribers choose whether to receive boxes weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and each box is delivered by courier throughout the UK, allowing the fish to go from boat to plate in just 48 hours.
Magnus Houston, managing director at Fishbox, said: “Hiring the right people is one of the toughest challenges you face when you’re starting your own business.
“Although we are a fish company, we’re also a technology company too, so it was really important to describe our business really clearly to potential applicants so they knew what we needed.
“The digital technology sector is really competitive in Scotland at the moment so you have to work hard to attract the right staff.”
It’s not just small businesses facing challenges either – bigger companies can sometimes meet similar headaches when they’re hiring.
Andrew Muir, chief executive at Edinburgh-based IT consultancy FarrPoint, said: “Consultancy is all about understanding where help is required and conveying experience and knowledge while communicating clearly.
“In technology consultancy, this can mean translating what can be complex issues into clear business terms and that takes a special kind of skill.
“We don’t need just excellent technical people, or excellent communicators, we need the mix of both.
“We do find it challenging to identify the right people because of these requirements and our recruitment process can take longer than usual.”
FarrPoint was founded in 2007 and works with clients including shoe retailer Clarks and oil and gas giants ConocoPhillips and Total, as well as public sector organisations like the City of Edinburgh Council, Highlands and
Islands Enterprise, and the University of the West of Scotland.
• This article was produced in partnership with Young Company Finance,